Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family, it is close cousins with vegetables like broccoli and kale, but you will hardly find it in anyone’s shopping list. Every part of the kohlrabi plant is edible, but most people prefer to eat the bulbous bottom. The leaves have graced the pans of chefs and cooks in India and Asia, where it is mostly grown.
Kohlrabi has green or purple skin and white flesh when peeled. Peeled kohlrabi looks very much like horseradish. This vegetable is different from every other vegetable. If you eat too much raw kohlrabi alone, its high sulfur content will make your stomach hurt. This hasn’t reduced the popularity of kohlrabi, you might not have an idea what it is, but it is very delicious.
What does kohlrabi taste like? If you eat it raw, kohlrabi will have a taste similar to cauliflower or broccoli. Cooking or roasting kohlrabi unlocks its sweetness, roasted kohlrabi has a sweeter flavor which is similar to parsnips or apple sauce. Kohlrabi has a slightly spicy note which is quite similar to radishes. The taste of kohlrabi primarily depends on how you want to eat it.
The taste of raw kohlrabi might be better described as a cross between cucumber and turnip; a slightly spicy note is present, and it has a crisp texture. This exotic plant is quite popular in Europe and India but hasn’t made a name for itself in the United States yet.
Nutritional Benefits of Kohlrabi
We have talked about how eating too much raw Kohlrabi can upset your stomach; the presence of sulfur is a health benefit. It is just an example of how overindulging in something could be bad.
Kohlrabi is packed with health benefits. Did you know that you can get more vitamin C from a bite of kohlrabi compared to an orange? It doesn’t stop there; kohlrabi is nutrient-dense, you have just 36 calories in one cup of kohlrabi and more than enough vitamins and fiber for your body. It also contains a significant amount of vitamin B6, potassium, and folate.
The compounds in kohlrabi that contain sulfur are glucosinolates, which help with the production of isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol in the body. These compounds are effective at preventing the occurrence of certain kinds of cancer like cancer of the colon, lung, and breast. If you want to get these compounds into your body by eating kohlrabi, you should eat it raw. These compounds will break down upon exposure to heat.
Kohlrabi is an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect the body from damage by free radicals. They also play a huge role in boosting the immune system, helping wounds heal faster, and the synthesis of collagen. It also contains vitamin B6, a vitamin reputable for promoting the production of red blood cells in the body. Vitamin C also helps boost the immune system and prevent everyday illnesses.
Fiber is very important for the body; one cup of kohlrabi provides the body with almost 17 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for fiber. Fiber helps balance blood sugar levels and is great for the probiotics in our mouths. It also adds bulk to our digested food, helping metabolism and facilitating bowel movement, reducing the risk of constipation and other diseases that could affect the digestive tract.
Kohlrabi also contains a good amount of potassium, which is great for fluid balance and can contribute to heart health by regulating blood pressure in the body. Kohlrabi is great for weight management, nerve function, healthy bone structure, and healthy eyes. It will be a great addition to any diet.
Culinary Uses of Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi can be enjoyed raw. You can remove the skin, and dice or slice it into salads or enjoy it as it is. Just be careful and not eat too much raw. Kohlrabi doesn’t taste any less delicious if you cook it, it fits right into many recipes and dishes.
Kohlrabi has a subtle flavor, so it will absorb the more prominent flavor in the recipes you are adding it to. This makes kohlrabi very versatile and perfect for almost any recipe that requires vegetables. You can also use kohlrabi as a substitute for radishes and turnips if you want to switch up a recipe.
The bulbous part of kohlrabi can be steamed, sautéed, roasted, broiled, or stir-fried. You can even mash it like a potato. The skin of kohlrabi is also edible, but you might not enjoy having it in your meal if it is too thick. Every part of the kohlrabi plant is edible, you can take the leaves and prepare them like you would prepare kale or Swiss chard. You can also enjoy the leaves in salads.
Origin of Kohlrabi and Where to Procure it
Kohlrabi might look weird, like an exact representation of what an alien vegetable should be, but thankfully, it has earthly origins. Kohlrabi is also called German Turnip, the name is from German origins Kohl means cabbage while Rabi which is Swiss German is interpreted as turnip because the swollen stem of the plant looks like turnips.
The origin of kohlrabi can be traced to Europe, as far back as the 1500s, it is a bi-annual plant that comes from the same family as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and a wild cabbage plant known as Brassica oleracea.
You can have different varieties of kohlrabi, you have the White Vienna, Purple Vienna, Purple Danube, White Danube, Gigante, and Grand Duke. If you look hard enough, you will find this weird-looking vegetable in stores, and at the farmers market in the United States.
Can You Substitute Kohlrabi for Cabbage?
Kohlrabi has a milder and less funky flavor when compared to cabbage, but it can serve as a replacement for it. Their textures are quite similar, but you would notice the different tastes right away.
Facts You Don’t Know About Kohlrabi
- If you can’t eat your kohlrabi right away, you can have it stored away in your refrigerator for a week before it begins to go bad.
- Despite not being a popular vegetable in the United States, kohlrabi is cultivated commercially in Europe, Africa, and many other continents including North America.